Tuesday, April 09, 2013
A moment in time
I'm not sure why I typed my mom's address into Google maps. The house I grew up in was sold to a developer after she died and was to be demolished to make room for what I assume will be hideous townhouses. I guess I was expecting to see a photo of a construction site or vacant lot. Instead I found a snap shot of the house from about a year before my mother died. She is working out in the yard while her dog rests in front of the door on the drive way.
I know some people question Google's efforts to capture these types of images. Although it makes me a bit sad, I'm actually glad they captured a moment of my mom's life that wasn't posed self-consciously and reflected something she loved, working in her garden. It is how I want to remember her. It helps me try and get past the memory of her last days.
I kind of wish Google had existed throughout history and captured similar moments. I would love to see photos of the house at various times during my life. Photos of me playing in the yard with my brothers and neighborhood friends. Photos of me sitting with my parents on the front steps on summer evenings, enjoying a breeze and a break from the day's heat. Photos of life that didn't just involve people awkwardly posing in front of the camera at birthdays and graduations.
I am going back to Boise in a few weeks on a business trip. I plan to drive by the house (or where the house used to be). And I'm not sure how I will feel or react. It will be hard to believe that the place is gone, the tree, planted in the front yard when I was a small boy, cut down. The fence I jumped over torn down (the same fence I ran into with my bicycle when I was learning how to ride). The remnants of my childhood plowed under.
And it will be odd not to walk through the gate and up to the door as I did on countless trips home in the thirty something years since I left. Countless trips home. It just dawned on me that part of me subconsciously holds onto the place as my home when I haven't lived there for more than three decades. But now there is no physical place to hold onto, to ground me to my past. My mother was that anchor that held me to that place and now she is gone. And so is that home.
I couldn't wait to leave there when I was old enough to get my own place. After sharing a room with my two brothers for the first ten years of my life I longed for my own room. And then I longed for a place that was my own without other people's rules.
And I am nostalgic about the place being gone. Maybe we are like the salmon and other creatures who are drawn to the place of their birth.
Or maybe we are just drawn to moments in time.